Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The structure of Edson's play, particularly the use of flashbacks, is an effective tool for revealing how Vivian really feels on the inside. Early in the play, she treats her cancer almost like she would treat one of John Donne's poems; picking apart each aspect of it in a precise and analytical fashion. Doing this allows her to feel like she is still somewhat in control of how things are going to happen, which is how things were for her when she was a teacher. When the play flashes back to the lecture she taught with the pointer (p.48), we see her in the height of her power. This power is suddenly stripped from her when Susie enters the room to notify Vivian of a test they need to perform, and Vivian is adamant about finishing what she set out to do, not what the doctors want. Another example of how a flashback ties into what Vivian is feeling is when the students appear on page 59. Student 2 begins to ask why Donne is so complicated and proceeds to say that "I think he's really confused, I don't know, maybe he's scared, so he hides behind all this complicated stuff, hides behind this wit". This is a reflection on Vivian herself; she's confused with no idea what is going to happen to her, which scares her, so she attempts to combat this by hiding behind her wit and scientific approach to life.


  1. I also feel her interest in Donne reflects herself as a person. She uses her logic behind analyzing Donne's poetry into trying to understand what she is going through. She is faced with a medical world that she is not accustomed to and doesn't understand,

  2. I agree with you analysis and one of the things I realized while reading your analysis is that Vivian shares some parallels with John Donne himself in that they both pretend to have a sense of control and use wit to mask the anxiety they really feel underneath it all


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